Killer drug fentanyl is now in the most serious category determining jail sentences – a victory in the campaign for Robert's Law.
The news was announced in a Westminster Hall debate I secured today. I have campaigned for several months alongside Michelle Fraser, the mother of Deal teenager Robert who was killed by fentanyl in 2016.
The synthetic opioid is 50 times stronger than heroin and often added without the user's knowledge. Police believe a dealer gave it to Robert as a "freebie", while across the country dealers are secretly adding it to increase profits. A surge of overdoses has followed.
Today, Justice Minister Rory Stewart said new guidance from the Sentencing Council meant fentanyl would be in the top category for harm. The new guidance ensures that sentencers will take account of the potency of this terrible drug, and of the harm which can be caused by even a very small quantity of it.
Mr Stewart said: "It's no coincidence that it was yesterday that the Sentencing Council published this guideline, with the debate brought by the Member for Dover and Deal today.
"This now moves the expert witness to state that fentanyl will be in the top category of Class A drugs for prosecution. This is going to be absolutely vital. It's going to be vital in deterring people from supplying and importing these drugs.
"I really want to pay tribute to the Honourable Member for Dover and Deal. His leadership and his championing has led to two important changes which I can honestly say would not have happened as rapidly had it not been for his work."
Alongside the new Sentencing Council guidance, the Crown Prosecution Service also issued new guidance for its prosecutors in March, instructing them to urge judges to hand out tougher sentences.
Dealers do not need to add this poison to their product. They do so callously for profit. Now they will have to seriously consider if it is worth it. That is good news for the whole country. Sometimes government work can be slow, but with Robert's Law we fought hard and saw action quickly. I want to thank everyone involved. I am particularly delighted for Robert's mum Michelle who has been so brave. She knows it won't bring her boy back, but it will save many other young lives.
Michelle Fraser, who attended the debate this afternoon with daughter Amy, said: "It's brilliant that Robert's Law is being talked about in Westminster and that MPs are listening to us.
"The fact that we've got new guidance that dealing fentanyl should be in the most serious category means we have made a real difference.
"This campaign is so important – not just for me, but for every parent. By bringing in Robert's Law we will save lives. That will be my boy's legacy."